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The Nathan Dam case has been a great eye opener in the demonstration of the role of law and court in matters pertaining to environmental management and the issues of environmental preservation as well as protection of the eco-system. In the evaluation of the decision of the federal court in the ministry of environment and heritage verses Queensland conservation council the importance of environmental management in relation to the state is evident, at the same time the role of law and court in environmental management is well demonstrated in the process of concern (Hoffman 2006).

The Research Question

In the evaluation of the decision made by the minister of environment and heritage, there arises the need to formulate two research questions that can help in the setting up the objectives as well as give the direction to the research to be conducted in a bid to establish the decision of the minister on the Nathan dam case as well as establishing the impact of the action. The Nathan Dam Case was an important matter concerning the Australian environmental based laws; the case established a scope of consideration in terms of the impact of the action proposed, whether or not the action is to be approved by the Environmental Protection and Bio-diversity Act (Markwell & Fellows 2008).

The research questions under consideration in relation to the Nathan Dam Case include;

I.Is the action under consideration a controlled action in nature?

II.Is it of importance to consider the indirect impact of the action to the environment at large? 

III.Is it of importance to consider the indirect impact of the action in relation to the environment at large?

The Published Literature Relevance to the Research Questions

In the Nathan Dam Case the decision of the minister in relation to the 75 EPBC Act established that the proposed Nathan Dam construction as well as the operation action of the dam was indeed a controlled action based on the impact on all the threatened species overlooking the impact on the migratory species (Russo 2008). The minister made the decision on the method of assessment that was to be in accordance to s87 pt 8 in the EPBC Act, that the assessment would be performed through the use of the public environment report. The Queensland Conservation Council was in a state of full opposition of the two decisions made by the minister and challenged the minister’s decision made under s75 since the decision based on s87 was based on the accuracy of the decision based on s75 (Nathan,  Jordan & Morden 2005).

According to Narthan, Jordan and Morden, the Federal Environment Ministry provided that if the minister under s75 decides that any proposed action is indeed a control action, the decision of the minister as well as the action must then be assessed  and if approved, the decision proceeds in relation to the relevant Act (Nathan,  Jordan & Morden 2005). On the other hand whenever the decision of the minister places the proposed action in a `not a controlled action’ position, the decision of the minister is bound to proceed with no consideration whatsoever on assessment and may perhaps be approved. In order for the minister to make a decision on the nature of the proposed action, he must put into consideration all the diverse effects of the proposed action and should not rely on beneficial impacts in relation to the proposed action (Boer, Ramsay & Rothwell 1998).

Research Tools and Methods used in investigating the Research Questions

In the establishment of whether or not the proposed action was a control action, the necessary formulation of hypothesis as well as observational studies were carried out on all the components of the eco-system that reside and are dependent on the Dawson River environment. The focus on migratory animal, which were the endangered species, plants as well as the natural processes that take place due to the supporting factor of the existence of the Dawson river in relation to both the negative as well as the positive effect of the construction of the Nathan Dam were put into consideration with greater emphasis put on the negative impact that were bound to disrupt the natural environment and the ecosystem at large.

The decision made demanded a broad and well defined approach to be taken into consideration when assessing the relevant impact of the proposed action on the surrounding environment as well as all the possible consequences that were to be experienced as a result of the proposed action as per the EPBC Act. However, the broad and the well defined action could be put down in one word by use of commonsense as it went well with the establishment of the causation principles as well as the reasonable predictability and the effect of assessment in relation to the law of Australia. The observational studies as well as the use of hypothesis were important tools used in the assessment process. The use of commonsense was also an important tool in relation to the research that was to be carried out in the assessment of the effect of the impact of the proposed action to the environment.

The Research

The research was carried out through observational studies on the impact of the construction of the Nathan Dam in relation to the important components of the environment. The extent of impact was analyzed in relation to the national heritage land, the effect on the Ramsar Wetlands, the endangered species in the environment, the endangered communities, the migratory species as well as the commonwealth marine areas and lands. The observational studies led to the collection of relevant data through which the assessment of the impact of the proposed action was based and the decision on whether or not it was a controlled action.

After the collection of the relevant data, the data was organized systematically and the formulation of the hypothesis was carried out. The null hypothesis stated that the proposed action was a control action while the alternative hypothesis stated that the proposed action was not a control action.  The analysis was then performed on the collected data and the null hypothesis was tested directly through the establishment of the confidence interval and the prediction interval in relation to the p-value factor. The formulated hypothesis was used in order to draw the relevant conclusion that would be useful in the establishment of the actual nature of the proposed action and the effects of the construction of Nathan Dam to the environment. However, observation was the most appropriate method of analysis that led to the actual establishment of the real nature of the proposed actions.

The conclusion made from the research findings confirmed that there was enough evidence to support the statement that the proposed action was not actually a controlled action.

Report of the Outcome of the Research Results

Background to the Problem

The construction of 880,000 megalitre dam on the Damson River in the central Queensland for the irrigation of the 30,000 hectares of cotton farm as well as to foster development in the surrounding area led to rising of concerns on the impact of the action on the environment (Stacey 2003). Nevertheless the Minister for the environment and heritage chose to overlook the concerns raised and considered the action as controlled action.

The Results and Outcome of the Research

The results of the research proved that the construction of the Nathan dam would lead to great disastrous impacts on the endangered species as well as the endangered communities in the area. The impact on the suitable habitat areas of the migratory species will be of great magnitude as it may lead to possible disruption and environmental imbalance of the areas at large, hence affecting the migratory trend of the species of concern (Price 2011). However, the world heritage property as well as the Ramsar Wetland experience negligible impact that could be attributed to other factors of the environment.


The outcome of the research findings confirmed the fact that the construction of the Nathan dam would have a big impact on the its surrounding natural environment. The impacts are considered undesirable as they lead to disruption of eco-system as well as the natural trend of activities in the Dawson River. It therefore confirms the fact that the proposed action was not a controlled action and hence the automatic rejection of the minister’s decision.